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Overview Edit

The Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization devoted to expanding the range of creative works available for others to legally use, build upon and share. The organization has released several copyright licenses known as Creative Commons licenses. These licenses, depending on the one chosen, restrict only certain rights (or none) of the work instead of traditional copyright, which is more restrictive.

Purpose Edit

A Creative Commons license enables a copyright holder to grant some or all of their rights to the public while retaining others through a variety of licensing and contract schemes, including dedication to the public domain or open content licensing terms. The intention is to avoid the problems current copyright laws create for the sharing of information.

The project provides several free licenses that copyright owners can use when releasing their works on the Web. It also provides Resource Description Framework (RDF)/Extensible Markup Language (XML) metadata that describes the license and the work, making it easier to automatically process and locate licensed works. Creative Commons also provides a "Founders' Copyright"[1] contract, intended to re-create the effects of the original U.S. Copyright created by the drafters of the U.S. Constitution.

All these efforts, and more, are done to counter the effects of what Creative Commons considers to be a dominant and increasingly restrictive permission culture. In the words of Lawrence Lessig, founder of Creative Commons and former Chairman of the Board, it is "a culture in which creators get to create only with the permission of the powerful, or of creators from the past".[1] Lessig maintains that modern culture is dominated by traditional content distributors in order to maintain and strengthen their monopolies on cultural products such as popular music and popular cinema, and that Creative Commons can provide alternatives to these restrictions.[2]

History Edit

The Creative Commons licenses were pre-dated by the Open Publication License and the GNU Free Documentation License (GFDL). The GFDL was intended mainly as a license for software documentation, but is also in active use by non-software projects, such as Wikipedia. The Open Publication License is now largely defunct, and its creator suggests that new projects not use it. Both licenses contained optional parts that, in the opinions of critics, made them less "free." The GFDL differs from the CC licenses in its requirement that the licensed work be distributed in a form which is "transparent", i.e., not in a proprietary and/or confidential format.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Creative Commons was officially launched in 2001 as an additional method of achieving the goals promoted in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Eldred v. Ashcroft. The initial set of Creative Commons licenses was published on December 16, 2002.[3]

The Creative Commons was first tested in court in early 2006, when podcaster Adam Curry sued a Dutch tabloid who published photos without permission from his Flickr page. The photos were licensed under the Creative Commons NonCommercial license. While the verdict was in favor of Curry, the tabloid avoided having to pay restitution to him as long as they did not repeat the offense. An analysis of the decision states, "The Dutch Court’s decision is especially noteworthy because it confirms that the conditions of a Creative Commons license automatically apply to the content licensed under it, and bind users of such content even without expressly agreeing to, or having knowledge of, the conditions of the license."[4]

References Edit

  1. Founder's Copyright (full-text).
  2. Monika Ermert, "Germany debuts Creative Commons," Register (June 15, 2004)(full-text); Lawrence Lessig, "Lawrence Lessig on Creative Commons and the Remix Culture" (2006) (full-text).
  3. Glenn Otis Brown, "Creative Commons Unveils Machine-Readable Copyright Licenses" (Dec. 16, 2002) (full-text).
  4. "Creative Commons License Upheld by Dutch Court," Groklaw (Mar. 16, 2006) (full-text).

See also Edit


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